Special thanks to Para Bellum for providing review material. If you want to get 10% off and support Goonhammer, make your Conquest purchase by clicking here for US/Canada or here for EU/rest of world and enter code “goonhammer” at checkout.
Welcome to Dinoctober, a mystical month unrelated to our sad modern calendar, where through the power of calendars Goonhammer is pleased to offer you six whole weeks of wonderful W’adrhŭn goodness! Who needs other factions when you can have the grandest faction concept in all of wargaming history: orcs on dinosaurs. Who play like elves. For some reason. Today, let’s check out some of the wonderful models of the W’adrhŭn, and hope we spell it right every time!
Last week we looked at the foot based orcs that roam the world of Conquest, and today we’ll be investigating the dinosaurs and other great scaly beasties.
Two big things to note here: firstly, these models are hella narrative as fuck, so it’s not your fault that you tabled your opponent – it was narrative. The Tontorr has a W’adrhŭn speaker hiding in a tent on top, the Drum beast has a whole range of drums of different sizes and pitches to go with the two dedicated musicians going toot to accompany the percussionist, and the carnivores and herbivores really look and feel different. The larger carnivore models (the Apex Predator and Raptor Riders) have relatively little ornamentation on them other than restraints to keep them in check for OSHA compliance. By comparison, the herbivores, being slower and less aggressive, are covered in swathes of kit; the Thunder Cavalry and Thunder Chieftain in particular are almost clothed, covered in wood and bone and glyphs, while of course we have the Tontorr and Drum Beast basically wearing small houses. Para Bellum does a really good job of building narrative into their W’adrhŭn kits, from the obvious (male W’adrhŭn connect with herbivores, female W’adrhŭn speak with the carnivores) to the more subtle, like the repeated glyphs of the various cults spread throughout the models.
The second thing of note is that this range is designed for aesthetics, not playability. That’s just a pretty blunt truth that we’ve seen in other ranges (particularly City States), where long narrow spikes like spears, feathers and flames look amazing on the tabletop or model shelf, but shatter like my mental health when only the slightest pressure is applied. This is a wonderful range, but unless you make some modelling concessions and light conversions, or just accept that you’re not going to get your army back in one piece, travelling with these guys is going to be a bit risky; even ignoring how much space a W’adrhŭn army can take up now! To change things up a bit, Para Bellum have decided to extend the risk from the model’s safety to yours – one of these chonky little guys hitting the back of your head at highway speeds is going to result in sudden and unplanned brain surgery.
Tontorr and Drum Beast
Officially named “el chonkosaurus” in the Gonnhammer offices, the Tontorr and Drum Beast are absolutely freaking colossal models that have caused some serious rearrangements of model storage shelving in my house. Looming taller than a Cerastus Knight, Para Bellum has said this is the second largest plastic wargaming model ever produced, choosing with only slight bitterness to not name the largest. We’ll talk about both of these colossi here, since they’re pretty similar.
One key thing to note before we dive too deep is that this is not a dual kit. There are unique sprues to each model that mean you cannot build both models from the same box, so make sure you’ve ordered the right one. Or, hey, order both! Magnetising these guys would be a nightmare anyway.
There are three real sections to building and painting this model: the dinosaur itself, the howdah and bits and bobs on top, and the W’adrhŭn variously riding or hanging off the sides. Having assembled both kits fully before painting, I am an idiot, and you should not follow my path. Paint the W’adrhŭn and as much of the howdah as you can separately and superglue them on to the painted dino at the end; you’ll save so much time and aggravation.
Building follows a similar process, and we’d like to call out the instructions for building both the Tontorr and Drum Beast as excellent, same as for the W’adrhŭn riders. The howdah instructions on both models are… bad. Again. For absolutely no reason. Para Bellum has worked to compress as much instruction as they can onto as few pages as they can, resulting in six full images of each model per page. As you can imagine, this means that each image is tiny, so there’s no way to know exactly where they’re trying to get you to place each little bit. The pdf instructions on the website aren’t useful; the resolution is fine up until a certain point, but Some Other Model Companies provide detailed close ups for key moments of assembly; I don’t need to see the entire model when working out where a model clicks into place on the howdah.
Finally, from a practical perspective, this model is absolutely fucking not built for transport. I’ve played W’adrhŭn almost since I started playing, and while I struggled travelling with the Apex Queen, travelling with either of these models is absolutely right out. The fragility of far too many of these pieces means you either leave parts like the skulls on sticks, censers, and even some of the infantry off, or it doesn’t get packed away; there isn’t an angle you can let this rest at other than vertically that doesn’t put pressure on fragile bits. Big shout out here to the Scion of Conquest on the Drum Beast for being the worst example here, who is incredible, but has her censer flail thing on a chain wrapping around her body in a supremely cool example of showing mobility and flow in a static miniature, but also in a way that this thing is going to shatter if it’s put under any strain; say, from it lightly catching on foam or a dice falling on it. If anyone has the tools, I bet there’s a market for some kind of hamster ball to protect these guys.
Aesthetically, I don’t think I stopped giggling at any point I was assembling or painting this thing. They’re giant brachiosauruses with the stupidest and cutest little faces, covered with pterradons and angry orcs. There’s nothing I can write here that will do justice for how awesome these models are; you already know, now go buy both.
This model is a dream to assemble, looks awesome, and just feels nice in the hand. The problem is that whatever Para Bellum uses as their resin seems to shrink, leaving some fairly noticeable gaps. This doesn’t seem to be consistent between kits (General Cross had some gaps around the leg joins, whereas mine was behind the dino’s crest), so really not sure what’s going on there. They’re fairly simple to fill, but still a bit annoying. More annoying is that while the resin models are beautiful to behold in their detail, the sculpting Para Bellum has gone with has led to some incredibly dynamic poses, like this fellow, and then almost immediately to a broken spear. The resin isn’t resilient, and the model isn’t designed for portability. Oh, how I long for a Dweghom army sometimes, just an army of bearded angry eggs happily transported to and fro.
Apex Predator and Apex Queen
The big t-rex is just such a fun model to build. There’s isn’t much more to say about it than that. You can paint it simple and clean, or (as many much more talented painters than I do) bright and flashy as all feathered dinosaurs should be. The ridden predator and lone dino have different heads and necks, so I’m currently trying to work out how to maybe mount one on a little plaque; event award maybe?
The Apex Queen on top is beautifully sculpted, standing tall and proud to lead her people into battle, and I was incredibly excited to find that she’s all strapped in; safety first for the W’adrhŭn, no monster surfing here! Sadly, her spear is both incredibly brittle and incredibly exposed; casual play with the piece has led to both top and bottom halves pinging off into the sunset. You can always glue them back on, sure, but you’re going to struggle to retain resilience; the spear is too small to be really able to pin in place. Again, this is a beautiful display model which has some issues with practicality. Not the Apex Predator itself, though. Both of my giant angry chickens love their time on the table.
The box comes with a plastic Predator as well which looks sick as hell, and is one of very, very few mounted heroes I’ve seen in any game to have a weapon that looks long enough to read the ground and potential targets. Sadly, there’s such a minimal use case for him, as we’ll see in next weeks’ faction focus.
What if dinosaurs, but hunting dogs? This is a unit of small, cute little dinosaur friends which as fast and easy to assemble, to the extent we’ve had a couple of kids able to build their own little models. For once, each model you can build in a unit has instructions on the sheet, and most arms and heads fit most bodies (or at least close enough that you can’t really notice), which is a good thing – just snip out all the bits and go wild building dinodoggos!
The cool use for these models isn’t just to build a unit (I confess, I haven’t yet!) but also to add features to the bases of other models in the army. W’adrhŭn don’t have retinue models yet, so I’ve put them across my heroes’ bases to make them stand out more, and running through the legs of the larger dinosaurs (as Para Bellum has suggested with the Tontorr and Drum Beast resin base kits!).
I’ve written before about Para Bellum’s ability to get a sense of movement and violence out of their models, and this kit is another great example of that. The raptors in particular just scream, well… hangry. These girls need something and you’re absolutely going to be on the wrong end of it.
The models are quite large and long, which can be a challenge to rank up if you keep them looking straight forward. Fortunately, the power of angles compels ye to model them on a diagonal, where they rank up just fine. This also allows a fair amount of empty base space to play with; I used it to put a couple of hunting pack dinos on one base to make a Matriarch Queen on Brood of Omgorah. The only issue assembling them (they mostly went together like a charm) was the arm sockets have sprue connections on the inside of the concave socket, which as you can imagine is a colossal pain in the butt to easily and cleanly carve out. Honestly though, this is more a case of “a single annoyance in an otherwise great kit” than a real problem.
Once again, obligatory commentary about how the instructions are poorly written and only cover one possible build.
Every kit that Para Bellum creates is a testament to how much they’ve learned over their brief few years making models. The Thunder Riders kit is well designed both artistically and mechanically, with well set out sprues holding easy to put together models with real heft, where you can really feel the weight of a tonne or more of angry herbivore ready to trample you down. The models are covered in bits and bobs that make it feel like these dinosaurs are lived in, not just used as tools. Like the Raptor Riders, we’d suggest putting these on their base on a slight angle, largely for your opponent’s benefit; these are chonky bois, and can have issues pushing other models over with their height and mass.
Also, I harp on this a lot for other kits, but you know what? This one is done absolutely perfectly. Every option is detailed for all three riders, in all the detail that you need. This is exactly what Para Bellum should be doing, and I have hopes they’ll continue this into other kits going forward.
Brood of Omgorah – Founders Exclusive
There is no evidence this model exists. Rumours to the contrary undermine the unity of the Dominion of Hazlia. Your location has been passed to the priests of the Pantokrator.
Enjoy our thoughts? Check out the rest of our Conquest coverage here, and make sure to check back next week for the next article in our Dinoctober series, a whole month of focus on the W’adrhŭn!
Special thanks to Para Bellum for providing a significant amount of review material. If you want to get 10% off and support Goonhammer, make your Conquest purchase by clicking here for US/Canada or here for EU/rest of world and enter code “goonhammer” at checkout.